## Proportionality or Discrimination? : the Political Economy of Humanitarian Assistance

2003
##### Authors
Debling, Florentina
Diploma thesis
##### Abstract
Impartiality, one of the guiding principles of humanitarianism, demands that the only criterion in setting priorities for humanitarian assistance be the needs of the persons affected by a humanitarian emergency. For the principle of impartiality to be met, humanitarian assistance would have to be allocated proportional to the needs of those affected, as well as it would have to follow the principle of non-discrimination. However, it is largely suspected that the donors pursuit of political and economic interests leads to a disproportional and discriminating allocation of humanitarian assistance. This study analyses whether the overall assistance to populations affected by natural disasters is proportional to need, as well as which factors determine the donors funding decisions. In order to assess the causal relationship between funding in the aftermath of a natural disaster and donors interests, this study suggests a political economic model of humanitarian assistance. It relates the aggregate financing outcome to the individual donor government s decision on the amount of contribution it is willing to make to a specific relief operation. The model starts from the basic assumption that donor governments seek to maximise their domestic political support by enhancing the constituents utility. It then hypothesises the constituents political, economic and strategic interests. Subsequently, the model s explanatory power is tested empirically. Although the donors pursuit of political and economic interests is frequently blamed for the perceived disproportional allocation of humanitarian assistance, prior research on donor motivations has largely focused on the determinants of development assistance. Only recently, some studies have assessed donor behaviour in humanitarian financing (Smillie and Minear, 2003a; Randel and German, 2003a; Darcy and Hofmann, 2003). Existing research has repeatedly regretted the lack of consistent data on the basis of which donor contributions could be assessed relative to recipients needs. This may partly be due to the fact that the focus of existing research has been on global humanitarian assistance, which includes humanitarian aid flows to populations affected by complex emergencies, as well as contributions to disaster relief operations.
Restricting the scope of analysis to relief operations in the wake of natural disasters, however, the problem of lacking data was solved by the construction of a new dataset including humanitarian financing data, data on the severity of disasters, as well as political and economic indicators for donor and recipient countries. As to my knowledge, this study is therefore the first to pursue an inductive analysis of donor behaviour and proportionality to need in financing of disaster relief. The empirical analysis is divided into two parts. The first set of analyses on the overall contribution s proportionality to need includes all reported contributions by bilateral, multilateral as well as private donors to those affected by a natural disaster between 1992 and 2002. For the second set of analyses on individual donors behaviour in disaster relief, I choose the top ten bilateral donors being a member of the OECD. The universe of recipients is limited to recipients not being a member of the OECD. The subsequent Chapter II first discusses the relevant literature and identifies the contribution this study aims at making. In Chapter III, I specify the underlying assumptions for the political economic model of humanitarian assistance and then deduct the hypotheses. Subsequently, the intermediate causal relationships of the model, which in the logic of methodological individualism explain the transitions from macro- to micro-level and reverse, are formulated. Chapter IV will first give the reasons for the selection of cases for analysis and operationalise the variables prior to empirical analysis. Then, the proportionality of total assistance to need, as well as individual donor behaviour will be assessed by means of descriptive as well as inductive analysis. Chapter V concludes with the most prominent results of the analysis.
320 Politics
##### Keywords
Humanitäre Hilfe,Politische Ökonomie,Diskriminierung,Proportionalität,Geberländer,Spendeverhalten,Naturkatastrophen,Entwicklungshilfe,Humanitarian Assistance,Political Economy,Donor Behaviour,Discrimination,Proportionality,Natural Disasters,Development Assistance
##### Cite This
ISO 690DEBLING, Florentina, 2003. Proportionality or Discrimination? : the Political Economy of Humanitarian Assistance [Master thesis]
BibTex
@mastersthesis{Debling2003Propo-4158,
year={2003},
title={Proportionality or Discrimination? : the Political Economy of Humanitarian Assistance},
author={Debling, Florentina}
}

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<dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Impartiality, one of the guiding principles of humanitarianism, demands that the only criterion in setting priorities for humanitarian assistance be the needs of the persons affected by a humanitarian emergency. For the principle of impartiality to be met, humanitarian assistance would have to be allocated proportional to the needs of those affected, as well as it would have to follow the principle of non-discrimination. However, it is largely suspected that the donors  pursuit of political and economic interests leads to a disproportional and discriminating allocation of humanitarian assistance. This study analyses whether the overall assistance to populations affected by natural disasters is proportional to need, as well as which factors determine the donors  funding decisions. In order to assess the causal relationship between funding in the aftermath of a natural disaster and donors  interests, this study suggests a political economic model of humanitarian assistance. It relates the aggregate financing outcome to the individual donor government s decision on the amount of contribution it is willing to make to a specific relief operation. The model starts from the basic assumption that donor governments seek to maximise their domestic political support by enhancing the constituents  utility. It then hypothesises the constituents  political, economic and strategic interests. Subsequently, the model s explanatory power is tested empirically. Although the donors  pursuit of political and economic interests is frequently blamed for the perceived disproportional allocation of humanitarian assistance, prior research on donor motivations has largely focused on the determinants of development assistance. Only recently, some studies have assessed donor behaviour in humanitarian financing (Smillie and Minear, 2003a; Randel and German, 2003a; Darcy and Hofmann, 2003). Existing research has repeatedly regretted the lack of consistent data on the basis of which donor contributions could be assessed relative to recipients  needs. This may partly be due to the fact that the focus of existing research has been on global humanitarian assistance, which includes humanitarian aid flows to populations affected by complex emergencies, as well as contributions to disaster relief operations.&lt;br /&gt;Restricting the scope of analysis to relief operations in the wake of natural disasters, however, the problem of lacking data was solved by the construction of a new dataset including humanitarian financing data, data on the severity of disasters, as well as political and economic indicators for donor and recipient countries. As to my knowledge, this study is therefore the first to pursue an inductive analysis of donor behaviour and proportionality to need in financing of disaster relief. The empirical analysis is divided into two parts. The first set of analyses on the overall contribution s proportionality to need includes all reported contributions by bilateral, multilateral as well as private donors to those affected by a natural disaster between 1992 and 2002. For the second set of analyses on individual donors  behaviour in disaster relief, I choose the top ten bilateral donors being a member of the OECD. The universe of recipients is limited to recipients not being a member of the OECD. The subsequent Chapter II first discusses the relevant literature and identifies the contribution this study aims at making. In Chapter III, I specify the underlying assumptions for the political economic model of humanitarian assistance and then deduct the hypotheses. Subsequently, the intermediate causal relationships of the model, which in the logic of methodological individualism explain the transitions from macro- to micro-level and reverse, are formulated. Chapter IV will first give the reasons for the selection of cases for analysis and operationalise the variables prior to empirical analysis. Then, the proportionality of total assistance to need, as well as individual donor behaviour will be assessed by means of descriptive as well as inductive analysis. Chapter V concludes with the most prominent results of the analysis.</dcterms:abstract>
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